A Special Update from our Executive Director

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself”
— Rumi

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start! 2018 was an incredible year for Good Neighbor. With the opening of 9 new residential locations, we helped the State close Southwest Virginia Training Center. We also fully launched a new adult in-home integrated care pilot with Anthem commercial across the State of Virginia, which is the only one of its kind in the nation.

We also fully launched our new community engagement and community coaching services. And to name one more incredible accomplishment, amongst the many, we piloted from what we know, was the nation's first attempt at offering, and now scaling, Tele-Psychiatry into I/DD residential services. And to me, the mic drop moment...is that we also welcomed several hundred new and amazing employees into our organization!

But with growth, usually comes some pain!

What? Yes, I said it!

When you stretch yourself and give more of yourself to things in life so you can achieve more, you are also breaking apart yourself in this process. And that shouldn’t be a depressing comment.


Because the pain is also part of the process of becoming a better you!

The you that will provide sustainability and resiliency in your life for your next phase of growth.


I intentionally listed first, all of the achievements I did above because I used to heavily measure my own self-worth on how many of these new and exciting things happened year after year for us.

I was “desiring to change the world” if you will, and at the same time, I used to have little self awareness around why the achievements mattered so much to me. And why I was often left feeling like it was never enough when I did achieve what I desired to achieve.

You see, what I personally had to discover for myself in my life, was that the internal self is often the place in the world that is the most undiscovered. It’s like describing the beach to someone who has never seen it in person. If you haven’t been there, it’s hard to understand how amazing the sand feels beneath your toes and how breathtaking the sunlight is when it glistens off of the ocean and looks like it has diamonds dancing all over it. There is just nothing that compares to the first-hand experience of seeing or feeling something in life for yourself.

And when we do experience things like the beach for ourselves, we begin to realize just how vast and expansive life really is. And it’s in these moments or experiences, that we sometimes feel like there is no end as far as the eye can see.

That’s the feeling that comes when you begin to truly realize how much the internal self has to offer you about who you are. And in this process, we also begin to recognize that there is a lot to discover that we may not even have words for yet. This is the process of bringing the intangible into the awareness of something that is tangible.

But why?

Because it’s easy to agree on the accountability of our external goals in life because they are seen as tangible to us and everyone else. It’s what most New Year’s resolutions are founded upon.

For example, I want to finish this degree, buy this house, make more money, change my diet, exercise, travel to this place...

There are few people I know that would look at our achievements listed above and say we haven’t been successful. And that’s because in the external sense of it all. I am blown away year after year by what we accomplish. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined some of the things happening that have happened.

But the gift that I know matters most in life, that I personally desire for all of us to better understand in our lives, is our internal self. Which also happens to be the trickiest area of life to understand because success in this place, doesn’t get measured or understood by your ability to “do” more. Instead, things get measured and understood by your recognition to “be” more.


Some would also say that just means “to be” or “to be less” of yourself. Which is about the letting go or loss of the ego or sense of self. Which is also simply just a recognition that you are not defined by all of the things that you have done in your life that you see as being good, bad, successful or not successful.

The healthiest your internal self will ever be, is when you can truly absorb that you are always more. Even when you lessen or subtract all of the things from your life that you have ever achieved, or things about yourself that you feel you have failed tremendously at. It’s the riding of yourself of anything that you view as the defining factors of who you are in this world.

So then who are we?

You are the 1 and 14 trillionth swimmer that with all odds against you, won the race to the egg.

And you are here!

And now you have a mind, a body, and a consciousness to work with!

How amazing is that!?

And everyday is a another day to say “it’s a new day” and there is always something in this new day to discover about you, a you that you should be more aware of, or more present with in some way.

In the reverse meaning of the words that the the great musician John Mayer has so thoughtfully and romantically shared with us all, “Your body is a wonderland.”

And before you go out believing that you can help anyone else discover their wonderland, please be present and thoughtful enough to take the time to first discover what rides are a part of your own amusement park.

So in this New Year, I hope you choose to further discover you, so you can be a better you this year. And most importantly, so you can better understand a healthier love for your sense of self, because that’s a discovery that only you can give to you. And that can also only be taken away from you because you decided to forget about what should matter most in helping to change the world......You!

– Matthew Marek, Executive Director at Good Neighbor